I’ve been struggling to put my thoughts on paper this week and they hadn’t come together by yesterday when I decided – duh! – to finally pray about it. Immediately the title “The Field Lies Fallow” sprang to mind. Perhaps there was a reason I suddenly felt blah, creatively.
Looking to the past, I realized that I was completing a personal “40 years in the wilderness” this month. In May of 1974, I decisively put my foot on the path of a Christian, having received my first answer to prayer and making a real change in lifestyle. Those 40 years were spent reconciling my three identities: Iowa school girl, New England hippie, and Utah Mormon. It’s been a long trek, punctuated with many blessings, certainly, but also almost constant adversity. Just as the ancient Israelites had to leave Egypt and wander 40 years in the desert of Sinai, to lose its worldly ways, I had to learn to live by Christian principles through the things I experienced.
Looking to the future, I sense new directions on the horizon. I’ve just completed a massive reorganization of my home. I doubled, maybe tripled my energy level by using St. John’s Wort for seasonal fatigue and probiotics for improved digestion. I was excited to expand my writing online, find new real estate clients, and return to family history research.
Coincidentally, my Sunday School lesson last week was about Joshua as Moses’ successor and how he prepared the 12 tribes of Israel for the new challenge of entering, then conquering the Promised Land of Canaan. If they would study and ponder the ancient scriptures, rededicate themselves spiritually, then exercise faith and courage, the Lord promised Joshua and all Israel:
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Joshua 1:5)
His first challenge soon appeared. Joshua and the Priesthood of Israel had to hold back the waters of the Jordan River for the Israelites to cross over on dry ground, then they conquered Jericho, not through human strength but by obeying instructions from the Lord that must have seemed crazy (walk around the city blowing a trumpet for six days, then seven times on the seventh day, finally giving a loud shout), from Joshua 6. The Israelites had prepared inwardly and then triumphed outwardly as the walls of Jericho all fell down at their shout.
What are the odds that I would be assigned this particular lesson that so closely mirrored my own path? I felt deeply touched and reassured I would have God’s support in whatever lay ahead. How often are we all faced with a new chapter or challenge in our lives, must “gird up our loins” with greater faith, and step into darkness with courage? I think that Joshua’s promise holds true for all people who sincerely seek after what’s good and true.
New seed is faithful. It roots deepest in the places that are most empty.
I realized that I wasn’t giving myself time to become empty or “lie fallow” so I could mediate, rededicate, and renew myself. I will slow down in the coming weeks and let the future creep up on me the way plants come back after a forest fire or grass emerges each spring.
Whether your journey changes course through a happy change or through fiery adversity, good can always arise from those ashes. Ms. Estés concludes with A Prayer:
Refuse to fall down.
If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down,
lift your heart towards heaven,
and like a hungry beggar,
ask that it be filled,
And it will be filled.
You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you
from lifting your heart
toward heaven –
It is in the middle of misery
that so much becomes clear.
The one who says nothing good
came of this,
is not yet listening.